Humans have had an interest in the stars for at least 10 000 years. Or at least this is what is claimed by astro-physicists in Australia who have dated a new archeological site as being in the order of 10 000 years old. The site includes a circular array of stones that indicate a connection with star-gazing by the ancient Aboriginal people.

Whatever you believe about astronomers, Gecko Rock is the place to see the stars. Just over 100km from Sutherland, which is acknowledged as the best star-watching place in South Africa, we have a night sky that seems so close that one could reach out and grab a handful of stars. After you’ve enjoyed a braai around the camp fire, its time to douse the candles and gas lamps and be overwhelmed by the display over your head.

T.V. BULPIN, in his superb book, DISCOVERING SOUTHERN AFRICA, 6th edition, describes the Karoo, thus:

"Vast, moody, lonely, melancholy, autumnal in its moods and stillness. Remote, elusive, harsh in the midday sun, but transformed by the approach of night into a place of gorgeous sunsets, with cool shadows rising out of valleys and hollows, slowly enveloping the land in a dark blanket of sleep while the heavens sparkle with so brilliant a display of stars that the Karoo seems to be washed with a soft dew of their falling light".

If you’re just starting out as a star-gazer, a visit to the Astronomical Society of SA website (http://assa.saao.ac.za/) will be a good place to start.